Preventing Illness By Keeping Your Home And Your Hands Clean

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What Types of Bacteria Are Found in Wet Sinks?

plumber portland orA wet sink can be a dangerous sink. According to Miami University, high moisture levels create the ideal conditions for some types of bacteria to thrive because up to 80 percent of a bacterial cell’s weight is water. The location of a sink can affect the types of bacteria found. For example, a November 2008 article on the “Today” website says that a kitchen sink in a home may contain more bacteria than one in the bathroom and contain up to 500,000 bacteria per square inch.


The Salmonella species of bacteria causes two types of illnesses: thyphoidal illness and gastrointestinal illness. Typhoidal illnesses only affect humans and occur when people eat contaminated foods. Non-typhoidal salmonella poses a risk of gastrointestinal illness with as few as two bacteria, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A sink exposed to fresh produce, raw meat, dairy products or spices contaminated with the bacteria, as well as items that touched contaminated goods, pose a health risk. Fecal matter in sinks, which you may find in bathrooms, may also contain Salmonella.

Campylobacter jejuni

Camylobacter jejuni bacteria are one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Children under the age of five and people between the ages of 15 and 29 are the most susceptible to getting sick from the bacteria. It takes as few as 500 bacterial cells to cause illness in an exposed person. A sink may have the presence of Campylobacter jejuni if it’s exposed to unchlorinated water, vegetables, raw milk or raw animal food sources that contain the bacterial cells.

Escherichia coli

Many Escherichia coli, or E. coli, strains are a beneficial gut bacteria, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, there are six groups of the bacteria called “pathogenic” E. coli that transmit food-borne illnesses via contaminated food or water. A sink may contain the bacteria if it comes in contact with contaminated water and foods, or if a person carrying the bacteria touches the sink. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that an asymptomatic carrier of enterotoxigenic E. coli may unknowingly spread bacteria if he touches a sink or other items.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is a bacterium that can cause wound infections, food poisoning, pneumonia and toxic shock. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, staph thrives in wet conditions, but is resilient and can survive in dry environments and environments with water levels, like a sink that isn’t used often. Being exposed to as little as 1 microgram or less of the bacteria can lead to a staph-related infection or illness. A sink may harbor the bacteria if it’s exposed to foods that require refrigeration that are warm. This includes deli-type salads, meat products and dairy products — foods that you may find on dirty dishes. An individual carrying the staph bacterium may transmit it if she sneezes or coughs on a sink, or touches a staph-related lesion before touching a sink.

(Sources for the above information:

Written by Flora Richards-Gustafson

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When and How to Wash Your Hands

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Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Woman washing handsWashing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

(Source for the above information: )

The Dangers of a Dirty Drain

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When water drains from your amenities — whether from the kitchen sink, shower, bathtub, or toilet — it’s usually already dirty. If your plumbing pipes can’t extract that water from the property (because of a blockage), the water will get even dirtier, and the initial blockage will worsen.

While a dirty drain causes some minor issues, like backflow and bad odors, there are more serious issues that arise as a result of thriving bacteria in your pipes — such as disease, sickness, and aggravated health conditions. Even water that was initially uncontaminated may encourage the growth of bacteria (such as Legionella), when left to sit stagnant for a prolonged period of time. The primary concerns of dirty drains include:


  • Development or Irritation of Health Issues


Blocked drains often exacerbate existing problems in a person’s health. The presence of additional microbes and bacteria, or the potential to grow mold, irritates those with asthma — leading to more frequent attacks. Chronic health issues can develop through diseases transmitted by fecal matter and exposure to dangerous particles; the type of waste material that builds up in your pipes when you have a blocked drain.


  • Unpleasant Odors


Blocked drains lead to stagnant water collecting within your pipes — usually resulting in a musty odor. This smell can quickly steep a home with an unhealthy (and unpleasant) atmosphere, which may lead to symptoms of nausea and headaches. When a bad smell consistently permeates indoor air — even if it’s not directly harmful to our bodies — it makes people more tired, anxious, and irritable.


  • Structural Damage


While the scent of a blocked drain fills your home, the water itself can soak into the foundation and corners of the home, weakening its structural integrity and causing pipes to leak, or breakdown. Some homes may suffer flooding that warps floorboards, and rots the wall supports.


  • Mold and Pests


Stagnant water attracts pests — like mosquitoes and other insects — that are prone to carrying diseases and germs. The damp atmosphere caused by sitting water creates a perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold.

How to Diagnose a Dirty Drain

The drains in your home are critical to your daily comfort — even if you don’t realize it. They clear out your household waste, and ensure that you and your family aren’t exposed to dangerous bacteria. Unfortunately, because pipes are hidden in most homes, it can be difficult to diagnose a dirty drain. Look out for the following symptoms in your own home, as they are common signs of a blocked drain:


  • Lingering Smells


Dirt, waste, and food residue all produce unseemly odors when left to stagnate over time. If the smell of clogged sewage, or pipes in your home, becomes more noticeable, this could indicate a serious problem with your plumbing. In fact, a particularly harsh scent could indicate the presence of a large blockage, or a damaged pipe.


  • Limited or No Drainage


It’s usually safe to assume that if your drain is suddenly draining more slowly, or fails to drain altogether, there’s a clogging problem in your pipes. Drains can quickly become clogged with soap, hair, grease, and other substances. If you don’t remove the clog quickly, it will worsen with time — leading to serious and expensive damage in your plumbing.

The most common places people notice slower draining are in their kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or bathtub. Contact a professional if you cannot remove the blockage yourself.


  • Puddles of Water


Even a tiny puddle on the floor beside your bath, or sink, could be a serious problem for your home. If you begin to notice pooling water anywhere within your property, contact a professional immediately, as this could be an indication that pipes are starting to leak, break, or even burst.

Protecting Your Home

Although it’s tough to prevent all clogs and blockages from occurring, you can mitigate disaster by identifying a blocked drain as soon as possible. Remember to take action the moment you notice that you could be suffering from a dirty drain; the biggest reason clogged drains become serious problems is that they’re out of sight, and therefore hard to detect. Keep a careful eye on the sources of water in your home, and be vigilant to any unusual smells, pooled water, or drainage behavior. The quicker you clear a problem, the less damage you will face.

(Source for the above information: )

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